October 23, 2008

Small Feathered Dinosaur Fossil Found In China

The fossilized remains of a dinosaur about the size of a pigeon that may be the ancestor of birds has been discovered by archeologists in China.

Scientists recovered 90 percent of the skeleton which was preserved in rock found in Ningcheng county in Inner Mongolia of northern China. The find was reported in an article in Nature.

It has four limbs which lacked contour feathers that could be used for flight, making it a flightless creature. It probably live 176 to 146 million years ago in the Middle to Late Jurassic. This makes it older than Archaeopteryx which lived 155 to 150 million years ago. The dinosaur weighed 164 grams and had buck teeth like carnivores. Scientists do not know anything about its diet.

It has been named the Epidexipteryx, and it had a short tail with four long, thin tail feathers.

Scientists said that it did not belong to the same group as the Microraptor which had flight feathers. Some scientists believe that it was capable of flying as well as gliding. The Microraptor lived 130 to 125 million years ago. Both animals have provided important information about the relationship between birds and dinosaurs.


Image Caption: Archaeopteryx bavarica, which lived 155 to 150 million years ago, is younger than the Epidexipteryx specimen. Courtesy Wikipedia


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